Monday, June 13, 2011

Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section

The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section aka" the Swampers"
circa 1970 

This is surprisingly hard for me to write. I have deleted my first two attempts. I keep going too far back into memories. I think of two members of this group as teenagers playing for Hollis Dixon or the Weejuns. 

I keep thinking back to my own past of sock hop dates, dancing, sweating on those hot humid nights. Pretty Alabama girls, a new 62 Chevy convertible, a hot band and a hotter dance hall. It kinda, sorta crowds the old memory bank.

The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section

When I think of Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, Barry Beckett and Roger Hawkins leaving Fame and starting their own company. When I think of all the big names who rolled into little old Sheffield to record with these guys. When I think of the former Muscle Shoals Hotel bell hop Arthur Alexander. When I think of the nice young janitor from Colbert County Hospital, Percy Sledge. When I think of Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Jerry Wexler and hundred or so other big music names who came to remote North Alabama. They beat a path to record with these four guys. 

When I think of the friends who were involved or just attentive to what they were doing. I can't help but have all those memories and years run together.

The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section at work

I didn't know these guys. But through friends, we were all aware of all the big names flowing in and out of their little studio. Leon Russell and Lynyrd Skynyrd called them the Swampers. Other folks new them as the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. But local people new them as nice guys, who were good neighbors and ran a good business. 

Here is a partial list of folks who worked at MSSS. I get this info from the web so I can't be totally sure. I started to call but didn't want to be a bother....some of those fellows were: Jimmy "Be-Bop" Evans,   Eddie (Blue Eyed Soul) Hinton, Pete Carr, Randy McCormick, Will McFarlane, the great Spooner Oldham and many more I don't know about.

The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section + 1

I am not going to try to list all the big names who recorded with them so I added a link to give you that information. Look under under Rhythm. The Alabama link is to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. The Obit is for a man who I feel was responsible for music becoming such an integral part of the Quad Cities fabric. His name was Hollis Dixon. He was a little older than Jimmy and David. He helped many, many young players by working them in his band.

The first time I heard the names David Hood and Jimmy Johnson they were either playing with Hollis Dixon's KeyNotes or with their own band, the Weejuns. I was 17.

Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section is Inducted
into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame

I never forgot how good these young guys played or how genuinely  nice they were. Throughout the years I never heard anything different. They remained life long nice guys as well as excellent citizens.

They are not in the rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (?). And as far as I know they are not yet in the Musicians Hall of Fame.

So.....For your body of work and your conduct I would like to:


                        "The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section" 

                                aka "The Swampers" to:

         "The Fan's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" !

                  Obit            Alabama           Rhythm    Videos


  1. I recorded the very first song I ever wrote at Muscle shoals in 1975-76 Jimmy Johnson was the engineer. The Band; "Black Cotton" from Alcorn University, management by Dave Washington of the SF 49 er's. The name of the songs "Time for a Change" and "Never Gonna let you Go" even though neither made it to the street. There was my beginning. Best of luck to all of you guys!
    Rj Williams/Juju Child

  2. No Rufus ! Thank You. We are honored to get your comments. That is exactly what we hope for when writing. Please come back and visit often. We value your opinion and experience.

    John B

  3. I want to dedicate this story to some old Tri-cities pals, Sandra Richburg, Suzanne Ginn and Billy Bell. They were fun, now they're gone.